For Life is inspired by the true story of Isaac Wright Jr., a Black man who was wrongfully convicted and tossed into the prison system. While locked up, he studied and worked to become a licensed attorney, and later managed to overturn his conviction.
The first season of the series followed Aaron Wallace, played by Nicholas Pinnock, who found himself in a similar situation. Wallace spent his time representing his fellow inmates in court while collecting the information he needed to prove his own innocence. As the series continues, Wallace is able to shed light on systemic racism, racial profiling, and other injustices faced by the Black and brown communities across America.
The series was created by Hank Steinberg, who also serves as executive producer alongside 50 Cent. Earlier this year, it was announced that ABC had renewed the show for a second season after it earned solid digital viewership.
While chatting with Deadline, Steinberg and Jackson said the show has never felt more timely, given the recent wave of civil unrest after the killing of George Floyd, and acknowledged there is a bigger responsibility to keep the conversation going.
“Creatively, we couldn’t ask for a better time for anything to take place,” Jackson said. “I’d always known that For Life was at the apex of social justice — it’s one of the reasons I was so enthused about the project when I heard Isaac’s story.”
“We just feel a tremendous sense of responsibility to depict whatever we’re going to show in the series in a sensitive, delicate way that is able to discuss the issues triggered by this incident and explore it from an intimate, personal, and emotional point of view through our characters and not exploit it in some way where it feels ripped from the headlines,” Steinberg added.
When asked whether they’ll be including the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests in the upcoming season, the duo said it’s very possible. Steinberg said Wallace will be getting out of prison at some point during Season 2, and the writers will be exploring his re-assimilation into society and into his old life. He said having Wallace out of prison will make it easier to potentially incorporate COVID-19 and BLM.
As viewers of the series know, at the end of Season 1, Wallace was presented with an interesting offer. After a riot in the prison, the attorney general offered Wallace freedom if he agreed to drop his plans for his retrial. The offer is incredibly tempting for the inmate because he has his wife, daughter, and grandchild waiting for him on the outside.
Along with Pinnock, For Life stars Indira Varma as Safiya Masry, Joy Bryant as Marie Wallace, Dorian Crossmond Missick as Jamal Bishop, Tyla Harris as Jasmine Wallace, and Boris McGiver as Glen Maskins.